Thursday, April 26, 2007

She's Just 17

Yesterday, a young women was raped on her way home from school. She is poor, and she has struggled, but she is one of the rare children who have made all the right choices. Anyone would be proud to call her their daughter. She is near the top of her class. Prom is coming soon. Her attacker grabbed her, raped her and sent her, naked, down the street to find her way home. She reported the rape, but her attacker is still at large.

If some Georgia Republicans have their way, in addition to the shame, humiliation and sheer terror she is feeling now, she would also have been denied the emergency contraceptives she received at the emergency room after reporting her attack, and should she become pregnant, these radicals believe that she should be forced to carry her attacker's child to term, and they want to enshrine their radical beliefs in Georgia's Constitution. She would have not choice in the matter. Neither would other women. Neither would doctors.

In today's AJC, Maureen Downey writes about what the efforts by Republicans to put a constitutional amendment declaring that life begins at the moment of conception on the ballot in 2008. That bill, HR 536 and it's companion, HB 1, are both still in committee, but together, would make it a felony for doctors to provide certain kinds of contraceptives or abortion. No doubt, women, including victims of rape or incest, who make those choices could also find themselves facing a judge.

Why now? With the recent Supreme Court ruling, it is clear that in 2008, choice will once again be center stage when we elect a new president. Republicans are counting on using this as a wedge issue to lure 'values voters' back to the table. No wonder. Their field of candidates leave much to be desired in the 'values' column.

Republicans in Georgia, and nationally, have been chipping away at the edges of choice for years, and just this session made the insulting "Women's Right to Know Act" even more awful by adding the requirement that a women contemplating abortion be given the option of getting and viewing an ultrasound and listening to the fetal heart. Now, they are essentially trying what failed in South Dakota last cycle, only worse.

Will Georgians deliver the same message as voters did in South Dakota? For all our sakes, I hope so, but it will not happen easily. We will have to fight, but with doctors facing potential criminal prosecution, women will have some company in that battle.

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